How often have you travelled on public transport when someone is loudly discussing their private affairs on their cell-phone?? Well this week a secret plan to close both Epsom and St Helier Hospitals and replace them with an 800-bed "super hospital" inSutton has been leaked by health consultants. According to a BBC News report on Tuesday night, management consultants were overheard on a conference call about the plans on a commuter train to London Waterloo after meeting Mr Daniel Elkeles, the Chief Executive of the Epsom and St Helier Hospital Trust . The BBC said the hospital trust had commissioned consultants to "build a new super hospital for the area" on the former Sutton Hospital site - a partially used mental health facility, some of which has been sold to Sutton Council for a school. This is understood to be the "preferred option". Two other options were mentioned: building a new hospital at St Helier and rebuilding Epsom Hospital.
According to the BBC, one of the consultants on the train was heard to say they were "making progress" with Mr Elkeles (pictured above) on the plans. The BBC said last night: "One of them [the consultants] said: “I had a brief discussion with Daniel afterwards. He said he felt pretty good about the meeting. We are making good progress. Actually getting him to agree on the number of beds to start with is a very big accomplishment'." The consultants were also overheard discussing details about plans for a new A&E, what it would be called and what services it should provide.
Plans to merge Epsom with Ashford and St Peter's Hospitals in Surrey were halted in 2012. Both Epsom and St Helier were part of the Better Services Better Value review of NHS services in the area, which was abandoned in February 2014 after previously recommending that the A&E and maternity departments at Epsom be closed.
In a statement last night, Daniel Elkeles said: "This is a long-term plan and any of the options being looked at here are many years away from being implemented and will need a lot more discussion, agreement and consultation before happening." He added: “The trust board has always been very open that it is committed to retaining both hospitals for at least the next five years – and that remains the case. At the same time it is right that longer term planning should start now to tackle the serious problems facing local services and local NHS buildings, many of which were built in the 1930s and mean patients are being treated in inadequate conditions.”
A spokesman for NHS Sutton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: "We recognise that Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust's estate needs significant improvement - health services are being delivered from buildings that in some places are from the 1930s - and we are supportive of the trust undertaking a full estates review, which has been funded by Surrey Downs CCG, Sutton CCG and Epsom and St Helier University Hospital Trust. However, the trust has not got to the point where they have discussed with us, as their local commissioners, the results of their review or any proposals arising from it. Of course, any proposed future developments would need to be considered in line with the south west London CCGs' strategy for health services in South West London."
The news broke on the same day as a Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and Tom Brake, standing for re-election as MP forCarshalton and Wallington visited St Helier Hospital. Speaking to the gathered crowd, Nick Clegg said: “Tom Brake’s record in campaigning for St Helier's Hospital behind us, keeping it open, keeping the maternity ward open, keeping accident and emergency going, is second to none." Mr Clegg (pictured below) spoke of the 20,000 plus signatures in support of the campaign, calling it a "fantastic achievement" before leading a charge against the Conservative Party that had made it "quite quite clear" that they want to cut money on local nurseries, schools, colleges and that only a vote for Tom Brake would protect them.
Jeremy Hunt, the outgoing Health Secretary, has said he is against plans to create a “super hospital” replacing both Epsom andSt Helier. Reacting to the leaked proposals to create an 800-bed centre after 2020, Mr Hunt, who is expected to be Health Secretary again in the Tories form a Government, said: “The Conservative party doesn't support these plans and wouldn't implement them in government. We believe smaller local hospitals have a vital role to play in the future of our NHS.” Whatever the future of Epsom or St Helier, there may be a management consultant looking for further employment after this public relations disaster!!??
There was lots of excitement also at the Oxshott Bridge Club yesterday evening as we reached the Final Round of the Tilling Trophy, our premier competition to determine the Top Pair at Oxshott for 2015. There were two Pairs who came into the Final Round neck and neck, with the title going to the two who achieved the highest placing on the evening. Fortunes waxed and waned throughout the session, and the decision was in the balance even as we came to the final Table. Indeed two Pairs tied for the First place and all four of the top Pairs acheived above the outstanding score of 60%!! You can read all about it in the Report by clicking on the "Competitions" tab in the Menu to the left of this box, and again on "Competition News", Alternatively you can study the full Leaderboard and the individual Travellers by clicking on the "Latest Result" button at the top right of this page. The Competition Tables have all been updated to include last nigth's play. You can see how the Tilling Trophy finished by clicking on the "Tilling Trophy" in the "Competitions" section.